Way back in the 20th century, recording music meant being in a studio with lots of big, expensive gear. Clearly, those days are over. Case in point: Plug-in maker Izotope’s 1.5-lb Spire Studio, which boasts an omnidirectional mic, two XLR-1/4-inch combo (mic/line) inputs with preamps, phantom power, two 1/8-inch headphone jacks, and a handful of effects. Most impressively, its rechargeable 4-hour battery, integrated Wi-Fi access point, and dead-simple app make it easy to wirelessly interface with your iOS or Android device and record ideas in 24-bit sound anywhere, anytime—all for $349.
Although you won’t need the app to record, watching your tune take shape on a screen is cool, and the app is crucial when it comes to effects and mixing. Fortunately, downloading the app, pairing the Spire with an iPad Air and Android smartphone, and setting levels was a breeze.
After testing the water with claps and finger snaps, I recorded a track of guitar. Each track appeared in a new color, and it was easy to undo, trim, or delete tracks on the fly. Recording quality was also considerably better than possible with a phone or tablet, though it pays to experiment with mic positioning. Not having a user guide was frustrating, having only eight tracks was a bummer, and not being able to add effects afterwards was a buzz-kill, but the Spire’s visual mixing was so intuitive that I wished my fave DAWs used it, and the app, made originally for iOS devices, worked marvelously on my Android. Functionality may differ on different operating systems, though: On my iPad, I couldn’t access the effects; when it came time to export, the iPad allowed me to share a zip file of the tracks, but my Samsung Galaxy offered only .wav and .m4a files.
Overall, the Spire is a winner. It won’t replace your DAW, but if you’re ready to upgrade from using voice memos to capture inspiration on the go, this Spire was made for you.
This article originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.